Join us as TTR Game Changers takes a tour through all 32 teams, identifying one player from every squad that I believe has a great chance of being a game changer in 2012. To see the full series click here.
New York Giants - The defending Super Bowl champions pretty much shocked everyone in 2011. Not because we are surprised that they are a good team, but primarily because of the amount of injuries that hit this team at the beginning of the season. Their secondary was decimated before the season even got rolling. They prevailed, and that is reason to think they will be even better this year with Terrell Thomas back in the fold. Yes they drafted Prince Amukamara last year, but I am not sold on the young man yet, and I think that if Thomas is able to stay healthy this season that he is on the field more than the Prince. Thomas was just given a nice extension this offseason despite missing all of 2011. People also tend to forget how productive he has been in recent years. In fact according to Pro Football Focus, in terms of fantasy football he was ranked 2nd and 1st in scoring in 2009 and 2010, respectively. He has had plenty of time to rehab his injury, and should be a big contributor in 2012.
Dallas Cowboys - The Cowboys have had time to settle into Rob Ryan's complex defensive scheme and we should expect them to emerge as one of the games best units in 2012. One of the key players that I expect to emerge this season is the second year linebacker Bruce Carter. Carter was a dynamic and explosive linebacker who played sideline to sideline at UNC, but his draft stock fell due to injury. Watching his film at UNC you could see he was an instinctive player with speed, explosiveness and the fluidity that you need in today's NFL. Unfortunately the injury cost him millions, but as a result he probably landed with a much better team than he might have otherwise. Now, nearly two years removed from injury Carter is fully recovered and healthy and could be a major impact player in that Dallas defense, as he claws his way into the starting lineup.
Philadelphia Eagles - Last year the Eagles paid big money to lure Cullen Jenkins away from the Packers, and honestly I thought it was a bad move. I saw him dominate the Lions, but believed it was because of the suspect lines they always had. However, when he was able to play inside in Washburn's aggressive four man front, he showed flashes of brilliance. With the health concerns still lingering over Mike Patterson, the Eagles will probably end up starting rookie Fletcher Cox. PFF suggests that if this does indeed occur, that could allow Jenkins to shift to the left defensive tackle, allowing him more freedom as a pass rusher. You add that to the fact that the defensive ends in this scheme are monsters and you could find a lot of 1-on-1 situations for Jenkins. In those situations, I put my money on him.
Washington Redskins - The run on defensive players stops, for now. The Redskins have a lot of question marks on their offense. To think that this thing is going to come together now that RG3 is in town is more than presumptuous, but there will be plenty of peaks and valleys for the 'Skins in 2012. Questions are still lingering around the skill positions though. Will it be Garcon and Moss starting at the wideouts positions? Or will a healthy Leonard Hankerson and Josh Morgan steal the spot light? I would have to say that Moss and Garcon will be the guys this year. Moss has been a big contributor to a struggling offense for years, but is his age catching up with him? Moss is in reportedly great shape, but I think that Pierre Garcon could be the more impactful player. Garcon is only 25 years old and is entering the prime of his career, and despite not having Peyton Manning last season, he still posted the most productive season of his career. With word that the Redskins are raving about him this offseason, expect Garcon to be the newest game changer in Washington, not named Robert Griffin III.